For many people, settling into a traditional 9-to-5 job means no longer having time to focus on their true passions. For others, that 9-to-5 is only a means to an end while they pour their extra time into building the side hustles and projects that matter most to them.
Those who seek side hustles outside their day jobs typically do so because they want to pursue their dreams while keeping a steady paycheck. While that pursuit can be challenging, the dedication and time management required can actually help you develop the skills needed to exercise that control.
Whether your goal is just to make extra income or to eventually focus 100 percent on your small business, your 9-to-5 and your side hustle have to co-exist. Here are five ways to make that work:
1. Set realistic goals.
Goals are vital to achieving success. There are multiple ways, in particular, in which goals can affect your performance: They can keep you on track, energize you by challenging you, instill persistence and motivate you to utilize your current knowledge or gain new knowledge to achieve a given goal.
But before you can reap the benefits of goal-setting, you have to set goals that are achievable and reasonable. If your side hustle is writing, set a goal to write a certain number of words or pages each day. If you’re trying to jump-start a business, set a target number of contacts to speak with or a milestone of products to create each week.
There are plenty of apps that can help you with setting and achieving goals, including GoalsOnTrack — which helps you set goals, create an action plan, and track your successes — and Coach.me, which gets the entire community involved to allow others to give you words of encouragement and motivation.
Related: The 5 Golden Rules of Goal-Setting
2. Develop a routine, and stick to it.
Time management is one of the most important life skills you can learn. Knowing what you’re spending your time on — and how much time you’re spending on it — is a key component of successfully managing a side hustle.
One effective way to map out your day is to start a Bullet Journal. It’s intimidating at first but once you start to make it a daily habit, it gets easier. Consider using the “Daily Plan Bar” method to outline exactly when you’ll complete which tasks. This will give you a realistic idea of how many tasks you can fit into each day and allow you to make the most of your time.
3. Make the most of your spare time.
In a given day, small pockets of time inevitably present themselves between meetings or large tasks. Maximize your time management by taking advantage of these spare moments.
For example, Mind Organization for Moms, which is based on “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, encourages moms to create situational to-do lists. For moms, these lists could be “While the Kids Are at Practice” or “While Teddy Is Napping.” For you, these situational to-do lists might be “15-Minute Work Break” or “While My Computer Is Updating.” Having these lists of bite-sized tasks ready will allow you to knock them out when little pockets of time pop up throughout the day. You can also use tools such as Evernote or Google Calendar to help you schedule these tasks and stay productive all day long.
You can optimize your downtime in some other ways, too: Use your lunch break to make sales calls or to follow up with clients. Go over your schedule and clear out your inbox while you’re eating breakfast. Instead of going out both nights of the weekend, spend at least one putting in work on your side hustle. If you really want success, it will take numerous small sacrifices.
4. Automate as much as possible.
Because you’re going to be spending much of your day at your 9-to-5, automating as many of your business processes as possible will allow you to still work on your side hustle while you’re busy doing other things.
Nearly every aspect of business can be automated to some degree. Tools like Hootsuite make it easy to schedule and automate your social media posts, aggregating them in one place and providing tracking tools and insights. Accounting processes like recurring invoices, time tracking, and expense reporting can be automated through accounting services like Due. And Hatchbuck, an all-in-one sales and marketing automation platform for small business owners, can help turn emails into conversions, as well as handle a variety of tasks to manage contacts, automate follow-ups, and measure success.
5. Find a reliable support system.
Done correctly, balancing two jobs still requires a reliable support system. If you have children, find a family member or close friend who is willing to help you out by watching them once a month for several hours. You can use the time to catch up on important tasks and prepare for the upcoming month.
Find another friend with a side hustle, or join an online community of hustlers to share best practices, lessons learned, and tips to stay motivated. After all, research shows that working together to achieve goals boosts your chances of success.
Mastering your 9-to-5 and your side hustle is a key to realizing your goals and enjoying your accomplishments. Fortunately, that mastery isn’t as difficult as it may seem, especially with companies and communities built specifically to help side hustlers and small business owners prosper.